This is the fifth and final installment of Streetsblog’s series profiling 11 officials who are bringing American cities and towns into the 21st century when it comes to transportation and planning policy. Here are the nine public servants whose work we’ve highlighted so far.
- Part one: Janette Sadik-Khan, Gabe Klein, and Richard Hall
- Part two: Keith Parker and Mike McKeever
- Part three: Joe Calabrese and Ryan Gravel
- Part four: Jay Primus and Rina Cutler
On to part five…
Secretary of the Delaware Department of Transportation
Early last year, a coalition of cycling, civic and environmental groups, including Bike Delaware, drafted a letter to Governor Jack Markell, asking him to hire a visionary leader to head DelDOT.
Markell didn’t disappoint. The man he chose for the job, Shailen Bhatt, had played a key role at the Federal Highway Administration administering stimulus funds, particularly the livability initiatives. Bhatt also represented the U.S. at the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Cancún.
As DelDOT director, Bhatt represents a clear departure from the old stereotype of the stodgy agency exec who sees road widening as the ultimate end of all transportation planning.
In a presentation at the Delaware Bike Summit last year, Bhatt told cyclists that he wants “to be known as the secretary that really pushed multi-modalism.” Toward that end, Bhatt and Markell have been making admirable progress over the past year. The state of Delaware has moved forward on a statewide network of trails — “bicycle highways” — between its major cities.
Perhaps more importantly, the state is putting its money where its mouth is. The Delaware legislature recently approved $5 million from the state’s general fund to support trail development. That money will be used to obtain a four-to-one federal match — $20 million, all told, which we’re sure will go a long way under Secretary Bhatt.